Pakistan: Federal High Court (IHC) gives govt. 2 months to recover missing persons


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) provided the federal government with two months for taking to ensure that missing persons are recovered, a private TV channel reported.

“No official has done their job […] we will hold everyone responsible if another missing persons case is filed in this court,” IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said while hearing a case of missing persons, including journalist Mudassar Naro.

During the hearing, the court not only summoned the prime minister, but Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar also appeared before the IHC.

The court said that the federal government failed to listen to the families of missing persons. The court wants the issue to be solved and this is the reason that it asked the prime minister to appear before it, Justice Minallah said.

Addressing the prime minister, Justice Minallah said that it was a major issue but the state failed to react in the way it should have.

The justice said that the situation was too complex and that unfortunately, a person who remained chief executive of the country for nine years wrote that people were picked up and sent to other countries. This shows that it was a state policy, said Justice Minallah.

He also said that the court appreciated the fact that the current government has formed a cabinet committee on the issue.

Justice Minallah then termed the practice of “making people go missing the biggest form of torture” and a “deviation from the Constitution”. “This court is a constitutional court … This court will look at the Constitution. There is no bigger issue than this,” he further remarked. The law minister requested more time and sought at least two months to resolve the issue after which the IHC CJ Minallah adjourned the hearing till November 14. At the outset of the hearing, IHC CJ Minallah told PM Shehbaz that the court has troubled him as the case is about a major issue. The IHC chief justice remarked that the state is not responding as per its responsibility.

“A chief executive ruled this country for nine years. He proudly wrote in his book that he sold his people abroad,” IHC CJ Minallah said. It seems like it was probably the “state’s policy”, he said.

“The court considered it appropriate to tell you [premier] what the issue actually is. The commission was formed to address the issue of missing persons but the proceedings were hurtful,” the IHC chief justice said. He said that the things Amina Masood Janjua told about the commission’s conduct are extremely painful and intolerable.

IHC CJ Minallah expressed annoyance that no work was done despite continuous assurances and the formation of committees by the authorities. “There are detention centres from where people have been recovered but no action was taken,” he said. He said that the state is responsible for redressing the sufferings of missing persons’ [families]. “The state is not helpless. It is the state’s responsibility if someone goes missing. Disappearing citizens is equal to breaching the Constitution,” the IHC CJ said. He said that the chief executive of the province or the Centre, wherever a person goes missing from, is responsible. The IHC CJ said enforced disappearances are a deviation from the Constitution. “Otherwise, you’ll have to say that the Constitution is not in its original form,” he said. He said that the prime minister has the national security of Pakistan in his hands and the problems of this country will be resolved when the Constitution is fully restored.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that it was his duty to respond to the court’s summons and appear before it. “The child [son of a missing person] requested me to reunite him with his father. This sentence of the child was extremely worrisome for me therefore I will not waste a single chance to fulfill my responsibility,” the premier said while assuring the court of making efforts to reunite missing persons with their families.__Daily Times